Halcyon Classic Parts -
the highest quality
British-made products for Classic Motorcycles and Vintage Cars
Digger talked to Andy Anker who runs
the family businesses Halcyon Classic Parts and HDM. The core
business is founded on their keystone products - goggles,
helmets and mirrors. These products are popular with
aficionados of classic motoring and aviation - Halcyon are recognised for
their quality and design.
Digger: Please tell us something of your background and the
background to Halcyon/HDM Andy.
Andy: Halcyon Accessories as it
used to be – we were a manufacturer of a range of our own
products – The Stadium goggles, The Mark goggles, the
handlebar mirrors and the licence holders that you see on the
website today. So it was a family run manufacturing business.
We bought all the tooling from Stadium in the early eighties.
Digger: How long has it been going for?
Andy: About forty odd years.
Digger: You’re bucking the trend with manufacturing in this
country, aren't you?
Andy: It’s a traditional kind
of manufacturing, with the old press tools and the old machine
shop lathes. We haven’t really changed our direction since the
eighties – we've had some ups and downs but have now
diversified into other areas. We’ve got our retail business,
which is a fairly recent bolt-on of about four or five years
ago. That has gone from strength-to-strength. We have a
fabrication and insulation side where we do things like fire
escapes, street furniture, security fencing and
stainless steel surrounds.
Digger: So you're really diversifying?
Andy: Yes, there’s four or five
facets to the business. We do work for BMW on occasions and
sanitation companies. It’s a group of areas where we operate
and when one has a slump then the others pick up and that’s
how we’ve managed to keep our heads above water for the past
Digger: That seems like a perfect rationale for a business.
Andy: It has worked for us –
when one side of the business goes down it does effect the
others. You have to switch your resources from one area to
another as and when you can.
Digger: Do you cross-train?
Andy: Yes, we have people who
move around and you have to be as flexible as you can. We're
trying to open up new areas of business as well. The building
industry side of things. And we’re always looking to expand
into new markets and new products. It’s all about finance and
we’ve had a couple of loans from the government, which have
been greatly welcome. And we’ve invested in areas of the
business and streamlined things - we purchase a lot of items
from China and India now which has saved a great deal of
money. Not because we wanted to but, to be honest, there were so
many companies going bust in this country like Platters and
Casters so you couldn't find a company that could do it for
you. It’s inevitable you have to go abroad.
Digger; Does retail include the online side of things as well?
Andy: Yes, our Classic Parts is
the mainstay of what we do and we’ve also got a Scooter
website which is still in its infancy. We’re waiting to try
and launch that properly with a load of new products and an
advertising campaign and try to get some full-time staff on
it. Then we’ve got a dealer site, where we do our trade and
wholesale management of our own products through our 185
customers worldwide. We’ve got about 95 customers in the UK
who take our products on a wholesale/trade basis and then
we’ve probably got about another 75 customers internationally
– USA, Europe, Australia and they’re just sprinkled around,
sparingly if you like. And we capitalise on this where we can.
We keep getting more and more new customers on a regular basis
and we’re slowly expanding.
Digger: Are you trying to get into the BRIC countries?
Andy: Yes, Russia is of
interest and China and we’ve got some good contacts in India.
Brazil and Cuba too.
Digger: We’ve seen a lot of changes in our lives, haven’t we?
Andy: Who’d have thought I’d be
promoting and trying to sell my products to China when you
think they can probably make it for a third of the cost of
what we can. But it’s just not viable for them to make it like
we do so we’ve got a market over there – it’s a fashion
statement as well as a practical thing for motorcycles and the
aviation industry as well which is another area we seem to get
Digger: The success seems to be because you have such a
diverse product range.
Andy: That certainly does help.
Digger: You’ve got some best sellers but some
other stuff as well.
Andy: Yes, the mainstays, like
the Mark goggles - we’ve expanded up to 25 or 26 varieties and
we’ve done additions and enhancements to them and to the
packaging and re-branded them. Then we have the bar-end mirrors and
the new scooter mirror which is a hot product and we just
can’t make enough of them to supply. We have plenty of work
and plenty of opportunity – the challenge is financing and the
logistics of producing using British manufacturers.
Digger: You’re almost like an island on your own now.
Andy: It does seem that way at
times. We’ve had a great relationship with our bank and our
bank manager’s done us proud. So I’m hoping we’re going to
continue that great relationship and possibly take on the
acquisition of a company and see if we can take things to the
next level and secure the company’s stature, as it were.
Digger: It's the old cliché – if you can do it in times like this,
what’s it going to be like when the market is better?
Andy: It’s funny, because if
you’re in a strong position now, then now is the easiest time
to do it. There are companies out there who are bending over
backwards to be bought out instead of going bust. Not in a
cold sense but you can hammer people down on their prices
because they want the business.
Digger: What are your other retro and vintage passions Andy?
Andy: I’ve got a classic bike
although it’s not recognised as a classic. I managed to put
it together and hope to get it on the road for the summertime and then
when that comes around I'll take it up to Stafford and pass it on
to someone who wants to enjoy it. Perhaps I’ll look at buying
the old Triumph Bonnevilles or something retro like that. I'll
put that in the garage and use that at weekends with the
missus on the back. Also I’m interested in scooters. I like
the Goodwood Revival – I missed it last year but I’d
definitely like to get over there for the coming event and
what I would like to do if I can… A friend of mine has got one
of the E-Type Jags but it’s a classic. I’ve always been an
E-Type fan and I went to a car show where there was a particular
E-Type Jag and I can’t believe he drives it around locally in
Enfield. It’s worth about £60,000 – I’m not sure if it’s got
the special engine but it’s a real beauty. It’s totally
original – I don’t know if it was owned by somebody special or
if it's the model that is special but it’s worth an absolute fortune.
There’s another friend of mine had an E-Type project and I’d
like to go along those lines. Find an old E-Type and tidy it
all up and take it out on Sunday afternoons and off to the car
shows. I think that’s where I’d like to be in the next five or
Digger: You might be interested in
The Retro and Classic Car
Show in Essex in June. They attract some superb classics from
the early 1900s through to 1970.
Andy: Thanks – I’ll take a look
at that - I appreciate that. I love to see the cars at the
Enfield pageant – the sports cars like the Jaguars and even
the old Masseratis and older Ferraris.
Digger: What would you say is special about the Halcyon/HDM
Andy: I think it’s just the
quality and the concept of our engineering – the tooling that
we use and the processes that were invented in the seventies
and eighties and even going back to when the tooling was
conceived in the thirties and forties when Stadium were around.
It was the attention to detail – we’ve got a couple of
threading machines that are probably the only two in existence
in the country and they thread our licence holders in such a
way that you just can’t replicate nowadays on modern
technology. The way they mesh together is second-to-none. The
things like the mirror heads – we go through task after task –
there’s probably at least six operations on our mirror heads
to curve the rims over so that the seals that fit between the
glass are as narrow as possible instead of being thick and
Digger: You talking about me again Andy? (Both laugh)
Andy: I wouldn’t be so
Digger: What are the best and most enjoyable aspects of
Andy: I think the enjoyment for
also for my father and my brother is the engineering. We get a
lot of pleasure out of the engineering process and making
these things. We’re a family of engineers and we like to make
things and get the feeling that when we’ve produced a product
or added a product or created one and it goes out of the door
it’s an achievement. Oberon are another manufacturer of good
British accessories and he’s a good friend of mine over there
– Steve Street, and again he’s a motorcycle enthusiast but an
engineer at heart as well and he takes pride in what he
produces. I think ultimately that’s what we do. As hard as it
is to continue, it’s something which I get pleasure out of. I’m
not sure I’ll be able to say that in another ten or fifteen
Digger: Have we made a big mistake in this country losing our
manufacturing and engineering capabilities and going over to
service and finance?
Andy: I think where we’ve gone
wrong is the mentality of investing in our manufacturing side.
If we’d been given access to investment funds ten or fifteen
years ago, or more, then our set-up would be a lot more
advanced and efficient and the R&D side of our businesses
would have been allowed to flourish more. Instead of battening
down the hatches and banging away on old machines just to make
Digger: I saw a huge roll-call of names from the motor and
motorcycle industry when I went to Coventry Motor Museum, many
classic names and 99.9% of them have gone. It seems like
Andy: It is sad because there
are some things that we do very, very well. It is sad when, to
sustain our market for things, we have had to go to places
where they’ve not got quite the same attention to detail as we
have as British manufacturers. The Germans do it very well and
even the Americans do it better than us so we’ve lost a sense
of what we are but we’ve picked up in other areas and it’s
never too late. They say there’s going to be a revival and I
tend to think that’s probably true.
Digger: Every country has its day.
Andy: Yes, the most interesting
at the moment is Brazil – a fascinating country and I’d like
to spend some time over there and find out what they’re up to.
Digger: What are your plans for Halcyon/HDM in the future?
Andy: The three family members
of the firm need to collaborate and focus on where we want to
be in ten or fifteen years and what we want to do with the
rest of our working lives. It’s a question of creating a
vision, I think that’s the keyword, of what we would like to
achieve in our business and that may not necessarily be
building a retail empire although that would be great. We
talked about developing the building trade side of the
business and seeing where that may lead and possibly keep an
element of the manufacturing and the assembly. But the things
we can’t do efficiently will have to go abroad.
Digger: It’s easy to get distracted because you are so diverse
and you want to do everything but sometimes you have to stand
back and see what you should be concentrating on.
Andy: I think that's the
negative side of being so diverse. It’s certainly got its
positives – the stability when things are up and down is one
but if you can’t focus on one particular area then you get
trumped by the other sides and it’s two steps forward, one
step back. If you choose the right area and focus your efforts
and develop that side it might really pay dividends. With us,
my feeling is that the retail side is the way we should go. My
father and brother have different ideas entirely.
Digger: Do you all get on?
Andy: We have our moments.
Digger: You don’t need Alex Polizzi, The Fixer, going in to sort you all
out? (Both laugh)
Andy: No. That would be bad.
Digger: You’re doing a really good job there Andy. You’re flying
the flag for Britain, you’re keeping our industry going,
you’ve got some great, really well-made vintage products
there, so well done you.
Andy: We are quite proud of
some of the things we’re doing and we are trying to develop
them but it's nice to get recognised. It would just be nice if
the government were to stick their head up and say “We’ll
give you a nice business rate holiday for 12 months to assist
you.” Or reduce PAYE or something to make it a lot easier.
That would be nice. Nobody in government sees the woods for the trees, do
Digger: Well, it's only people like us Andy.
Andy: (Laughs) Yes, and we
can’t do anything about it.
Digger: Well Andy. Thanks for
letting us know about the business and keep up the sterling
Halcyon Classic Parts
The highest quality
British-made products for Classic Motorcycles and Vintage Cars
Goggles, Classic Goggles, Modern Goggles, Classic
Motorcycle Products, Motorcycle Mirrors, Motorcycle
Accessories, Motorcycle Goggles, Classic Car Products,
Classic Car Apparel, Classic Car Mirrors, Classic Car
Accessories, Classic Car Headlights, Classic Car
Universal Parts, Aviation Apparel, Aviation Goggles,
Flying Helmets, Leather Gaunlets, Aviation Leather
Box-Sets, Classic Scooter Products, Scooter Goggles,
Scooter Mirrors, Scooter Accessories, Lambretta
Welcome to Halcyon Classic Parts, an online store
built around the highest quality British-made products
for Classic Motorcycles and Vintage Cars. Specialising
in Chrome and Stainless Steel classic accessories and
the finest range of leather aviator and motorcycle
goggles on the market.
With products still being handmade in England using
traditional methods, Halcyon accessories have a unique
and visible distinction in quality which makes them
the right choice for any owner who takes pride in
their Classic Automobile.
Halcyon Design and Manufacturing Ltd have been
manufacturing and selling high quality Classic
Accessories for 25 years. Many of the Classic Parts we
make are manufactured to the same specification as the
Original Products from Stadium.